In golf, simple is almost always better. That is certainly true when it comes to trying to stabilize the position of the bottom of your swing. If you can successfully simplify the mechanics that you use to move the club back and through the shot, you will be able to more consistently find the same bottom point with each club. Complicated swings may occasionally result in good shots, but it is unlikely they will ever offer you the necessary consistency to post good scores.

Mechanics Lesson Chart

There are a lot of mechanics to learn in golf. And, while it could be argued that many golfers go too far in their pursuit of ‘perfect’ mechanics, it certainly is important to establish solid fundamentals in your game. With good mechanics on your side, you should be able to hit a lot of good shots and make your way around the course successfully.

Learning the mechanics of the golf swing is a challenge, especially if you are trying to do it on your own. Those who take formal lessons early in their golf experience will have an advantage over those who go it alone, but lessons from a pro are not required to make progress and learn good technique. As long as you are willing to pay attention to details and work consistently on your swing, you can develop mechanics that will serve you well for years to come.

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In this article, we are going to talk about golf mechanics from a variety of angles. First, we’ll discuss why it is that mechanics are important in the first place. Hopefully, that foundation will provide you with the motivation necessary to work on your game regularly. From there, we’ll get into discussing some of the basic golf mechanics that can help you build a reliable game, and we’ll highlight some common mistakes. Finally, we’ll use the last section to touch on key mechanics in the short game. Let’s get started!

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

— Why Do Mechanics Matter?

From a big picture perspective, it’s worthwhile to step back and think about why it matters to work on your golf mechanics in the first place. Can’t you just swing away and rely on natural ability to send the ball down the fairway? Surely, with enough practice, you could start to get good results, even if your mechanics were less than ideal.

Well, to be fair, you can work your way toward decent results without knowing much about golf mechanics. You can just keep practicing and adjusting how you play based on nothing more than feel and what you see the ball doing in the air. It’s certainly possible to build your game that way, and plenty of people have done it in the past. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to building a game without paying any attention to mechanics. Some of the key points are listed below –

Mechanics Golf Lesson Chart

  • A long road. While you might manage to work your way into an improved golf game over time without paying attention to mechanics, it’s likely to take you much longer to get there. For instance, it might take you months and months to work out a problem which would have been solved in just a couple of practice sessions if you had taken the time to learn the basics of golf mechanics. There are no shortcuts to success in golf regardless of how you go about it but making the decision to ignore mechanics is going to take a tough task and make it even more challenging.
  • A ceiling on your progress. Without solid mechanics, there will always be a ceiling in your game that stops you from going much further. In other words, you can get to a point where you ‘max out’ your game based on the swing and short game you have built from scratch. For some players, it might be possible to reach a pretty good level without much in the way of mechanics – but there will always be a bit of an unknown regarding what could have been possible with better technique. If you are serious about playing golf to the best of your potential in the years ahead, learning how to use basic mechanics will go a long way toward helping you hit your goals.
  • Dealing with pressure. Perhaps one of the most compelling arguments in favor of working on the mechanics of your golf swing comes down to how you perform under pressure. With a ‘homemade’ swing, you might fare pretty well when you are just out with your buddies playing a casual round of golf. But what if you decide to enter a tournament? How will your swing hold up when a little bit of pressure is applied? There is no way to know for sure, of course, but many golfers have found over the years that their swing falls apart without solid mechanics in place. It is the traditional mechanics of the golf swing that tend to be repeatable under pressure. That isn’t to say that no one with questionable mechanics can play good golf when the heat is on, but generally speaking it is difficult to do so. If you plan to play in competitions as part of your experience as a golfer, consider investing some time and effort into developing your mechanical foundation.
  • Consistency over time. One last advantage to building a mechanically sound golf swing is the ability to maintain your level of play over a long period of time. Those without good mechanics tend to go up and down more often – enjoying periods of good play while also dealing with long stretches of struggles. While every golfer will experience his or her own ups and downs from time to time, those peaks and valleys tend to be less dramatic for the player who is working with solid technique.

Simply put, it’s worth your time to build good mechanics in your swing. If you are a serious player and you hope to play better in the months and years to come, get to work on improving your mechanics right away.

— Basic Golf Swing Mechanics

There are a lot of different elements which could be lumped together into the category of golf swing mechanics. In fact, we could easily write a whole book on this topic – rather than just an article – given how much material there is to cover. In this section, we will only scratch the surface. However, the points below will touch on some of the key golf swing mechanics that every player should understand. If you need a place to start from with regard to your practice efforts, the points below will get you going.

Mechanics Golf Lesson Chart

  • Takeaway technique. Building a solid, repeatable takeaway is one of the best things you will ever do for your golf swing. If you have a good takeaway in place, you can actually get away with a lot of other mistakes and still come out okay. Unfortunately, many golfers ignore the importance of the takeaway, and some never bother to practice it at all. A good takeaway involves keeping your hands and wrists very quiet while your shoulders do the work of turning the club away from the target. The key to the takeaway is to keep it simple – if there are too many moving parts in your takeaway, something is bound to go wrong. As you work on building a good takeaway, try keeping your hands out of the action and you should get into a good position. This may feel awkward at first but stick with it until you gain confidence.
  • A big shoulder turn. One of the classic golf swing mechanics that everyone can agree on is a big shoulder turn that sets you up for a powerful downswing. This is one of the few mechanics that has remained a constant through the evolution of the game. If you watch videos of professional golfers making swings from a generation ago, you’ll surely notice that their swings looked a lot different than the swings used on the Tour today. However, the shoulder turn is still there, just as it is in the modern game. If you are going to get the most out of your swing, both from a power and consistency perspective, you’ll need to get behind the ball properly at the top. One issue that leaves golfers short of their potential for a big shoulder turn is rushing into the downswing. Some players are in such a hurry to hit the ball that they don’t give the backswing the time it needs to develop all the way. Take plenty of time and turn your back to the target before changing directions – you’ll be impressed at the kind of power such a swing creates.
  • Eyes down, head still. This one can be a little tricky, believe it or not, so we need to walk through this one so there is no confusion. It’s often said that you need to ‘keep your head down’ in the golf swing, but that isn’t necessarily true. In fact, trying to keep your head down can lead to trouble. If you force your head to stay down in an awkward, forced position, you’ll run into struggles with making a full turn. So, the idea is to keep your eyes down while your head stays up in a comfortable position. The top of your back should be as flat as possible at address, so you want to keep your chin up and create a solid posture that promotes a nice turn away from the target. You can practice this position in front of a mirror to make sure you are getting it right. While it isn’t true that you need to keep your head ‘down’ in the sense of pushing your chin down toward your chest, you do want to keep your head mostly still during the swing. Adding unnecessary movement to your head while you swing the club is only going to complicate things and it will make it harder to achieve a clean strike.
  • Full extension. You don’t want to be holding anything back as the club moves through the hitting area, but some golfers seem to have trouble committing to the strike when the club gets down toward the ball. If you are holding something back, you may not get full extension in your right arm, and a long list of potential problems can stem from that error. For one thing, you might not strike the ball cleanly, as you will be restricting the club from releasing properly through impact and into the finish. Even if you do hit the ball cleanly, you won’t have as much speed as you would have with a better release, so you’ll lack power. For some golfers, getting full extension comes down to nothing more than trusting the swing. If you believe in your swing and expect to hit a good shot, you won’t have much trouble turning it loose.

There are many more mechanics in the game of golf than just these four points, but you’d do yourself a lot of favors by working on these points. If you had a swing which contained a solid takeaway, big shoulder turn, eyes down on the ball, and great extension, you’d be hitting plenty of good shots in each and every round.

— Common Mechanical Mistakes

As you already know, mistakes are common in golf. Amateur golfers make mistakes constantly as they make their way around the course – but errors are not limited to just the amateurs in this game. Pros get things wrong all the time as well, which should be a reassuring fact for the amateurs who feel like the pros make it look so easy on television. Sure, the players on the pro tours are incredibly talented, but they get it wrong from time to time just like everybody else.

We’d like to use this section to touch on three common mechanical issues seen in the game of golf. You won’t have to look far on your local driving range to see these mistakes in action, and you may even be making one or two of them in your own game.

Mechanics Golf Lesson Chart

  • Swaying away from the target. This is an extremely common mistake, especially among inexperienced players. As the backswing develops, you should be focusing your efforts on turning away from the target while staying balanced. Unfortunately, many golfers wind up sliding laterally away from the target instead of rotating properly. That lateral slide sets the golf off balance and leads to all sorts of problems later. A good way to practice getting away from this habit is to stop your backswing a couple of times as it develops to make sure you aren’t swaying to the right. For instance, you could swing up to the halfway back position and then pause, taking note of where your weight is and whether you have been swaying or rotating. Players who sway to the right often end up hitting a slice, to be sure to take note of this point if you struggle with a severe left-to-right ball flight.
  • Arm swing too long. It’s good to make a big backswing, as long as that backswing consists of a great shoulder rotation and reliable balance. If your backswing is long because you are forcing your arms to keep swinging back even after your shoulders have stopped turning, you’re only asking for trouble. When you let your arms keep swinging after your shoulders have stopped, you are putting the club in a ‘stuck’ position and you might not be able to recover. It’s best to keep your arms out in front of your chest as much as possible, rather than letting them get way behind you. Focus on stopping your arm swing as soon as your shoulder turn stops, and you’ll be left with a much more connected golf swing.
  • Trying to lift the ball. This is an error that is actually mental more than it is physical, but it winds up manifesting itself in a physical manner. In other words, the mistake originates in your head, but it comes out in the way you swing the club through impact. If you are thinking that you need to help the ball get up off the ground, you are likely to lift through impact by raising the level of your body or using your right hand actively to scoop the club under the ball. There is nothing but bad news that is going to come from these moves. You don’t need to help the ball get up off the ground because your club has loft built into its design for that very purpose. As long as you make solid contact by swinging through the ball with confidence, the ball will rise off the ground just fine.

If you can stay away from making any of these three mistakes in your own game, and you can hit on most of the mechanics we listed in the previous section, you’ll be very happy with the results.

— Mechanics in the Short Game

To wrap things up, we’d like to highlight a few important points regarding mechanics in the short game. It could be argued that mechanics are even more important in the short game than they are in the long game, since you need to be so precise with your short shots. Dial in your mechanics on and around the greens and you’ll start to save strokes right away.

Mechanics Golf Lesson Chart

  • A solid putting stroke. The key mechanic to keep in mind while putting is a rocking action in the shoulders while everything else stays still. Countless golfers want to make the putting stroke more complicated than it needs to be. You don’t need to do anything ‘fancy’ while swinging the putter – you just need to rock your shoulders back and through while keeping your head still and your lower body stable. We aren’t saying it is easy to repeat that motion, because it certainly takes plenty of practice, but there is nothing complicated about the proper technique.
  • Hit down through chip shots. You want to design the mechanics of your chipping action in such a way that it will be easy to hit down on the ball at impact. Hitting down will cause the ball to pop up easily out of the grass. If you have traditionally had trouble getting the ball off the ground when chipping, that is probably because you haven’t been hitting down correctly. Golf can be a confusing game in that the ball often reacts in the opposite manner from what you would expect. If you want it to go up, for instance, you should hit down. To set your mechanics up for a downward strike, lean left at address and use a bit of wrist hinge to set the club in the backswing. As long as you let your shoulders control most of the swing, with your wrists just playing a minor role, this method should lead to nice results.
  • Hand action rules in the bunker. Greenside bunker shots give plenty of golfers trouble, but it doesn’t need to be that way. These kinds of shots can actually be pretty simple, as long as you understand the mechanics of how they work. When playing an explosion shot, you are trying to swing your club under the ball so you can blast a bunch of sand into the air. That sand will ‘carry’ the ball out of the bunker and hopefully send it up onto the green. To get the speed necessary through the hitting area to make this work, feel free to use your hands more aggressively than you would on other shots. It’s a good idea to keep your hands quiet on a lot of traditional golf shots, but the greenside explosion shot is one time when you can really let your hands work actively through the ball.

Don’t let task of learning golf mechanics overwhelm you if you are just getting started in the game. Golf is supposed to be fun, after all, and it won’t be much fun if you look at is as more of a chore than anything else. Allow yourself to learn one point at a time, and make sure you are happy with your progress before you move on to learn another piece of the puzzle. With consistent practice, you should soon find yourself playing better than ever before. Good luck!